MANKATO, Minn. (AP) — Long before Jabari Price was trying to build an NFL future, he caught the eye of Tyrone Carter.
When Price was getting ready for the NFL draft, he trained with Carter. After Price was selected by the Minnesota Vikings in the seventh round, the former NFL defensive back was even more eager to mentor his fellow Pompano Beach, Florida, resident and Blanche Ely High School graduate.
“I just told him that if I can make, he can do the same,” Carter said. “I know what he has to do, from training to nutrition to proper technique. I try to be a mentor and a big brother for him.”
Price is using Carter’s advice and guidance as he tries to earn a spot on the Vikings’ roster. As a seventh-round draft pick, he has some advantages, but there are 10 cornerbacks in camp, each trying to start or continue their career.
“I feel like I’ve been mediocre so far,” Price said. “I want to show the coaches that I can make plays and not mess up. When they call my number, I need to be ready to go.”
Carter, who said he mentors several kids from Pompano Beach, attended some of the early training camp practices to help Price get accustomed to the environment, having put in a lot of hours on the Minnesota State practice fields when he played for the Vikings from 2000-02. Price has done some work as a slot cornerback with the top defense, but for most of camp, he has been with the second unit, taking reps when he can.
“(Carter has) played defensive back in this league so he knows what I’m seeing,” Price said. “Even before the draft, he would work out with me and answer any questions I had.”
Carter was an All-American defensive back at the University of Minnesota and was selected in the fourth round of the 2000 draft by the Vikings. He also played with the New York Jets, Pittsburgh and San Diego before retiring after the 2010 season. He lives in Minnesota and operates a training facility so the close relationship with Price will continue.
“I told him you can’t get caught up in the numbers,” Carter said. “The draft, the depth chart … it doesn’t matter. When you get an opportunity, you have to seize the moment. I want to help him stay focused because it’s no longer a dream, it’s here. I told him to do your best and not cheat yourself.”
Price went through the special teams walkthrough Monday morning, trying to make any impression that he can on the coaches. Carter has warned him to be ready for anything and not be intimidated by his circumstances.
“He just tells me to do what the coaches tell me to do,” Price said. “He doesn’t want me to be uptight. It’s typical for a seventh rounder to be nervous, but he tells me to play with confidence.”
Friday will be a big test for Price, who is expected to get quite a bit of playing time when the Vikings open the preseason against Oakland. Coach Mike Zimmer said Monday he likes to keep a lot of cornerbacks on the roster, in part because of injuries.
“Any time we have had injuries, his reps really increased and he made the most out of that opportunity,” defensive coordinator George Edwards said. “That is the way during the season – if somebody goes down, the next man is up.
“With the evaluation process, we try to look for certain traits in players. He had a lot of traits that we are looking for, as far as he competes and as far as the ability to run and make plays and speed and those kinds of things.”
Carter plans to return to training camp this week to check on his mentee, and Price said there are few people who love talking about football more than Carter. He wants to make sure Price is prepared for the preseason game and focused on what he can control, such as execution and effort.
“I enjoy being a presence in (Price’s) life,” Carter said. “I tell him to play for his family and his community, and he’s done that. I’m proud every time I see one of my guys (from Pompano Beach) have success.”
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